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Juvenile Indigent Defense System Failing Kids It's Meant to Protect - Weekly Roundup

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_old-TVAdolescent Substance Abuse Treatment - News and Research Updates

  • How the confidentiality of patients who obtain substance abuse treatment will be handled under health reform (and electronic health records in particular) continues to be the focus of controversy, according to Join Together. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has issued a document covering "frequently-asked questions," and will hold a stakeholders' meeting on August 4th to provide more clarification. Last February, I posted that some health reform advocates want to do away with federal confidentiality regulations under 42 CFR in favor of relevant HIPAA regulations. They say they're concerned that the burden of complying will discourage mainstream doctors from screening patients and providing brief intervention for alcohol and drug issues. 

Supporting Teens in Treatment and Beyond: Our Community Summit and Lessons Learned

community-involvement_people-working-at-tablesI’m sure you already know the Reclaiming Futures mantra for teens in the justice system who have alcohol and drug issues: “More treatment, better treatment, and beyond treatment!”

The hardest part of the mantra to bring to fruition is the third part of it – how can we help support youth in recovery once they’re done with treatment (or even the juvenile court)? Changing behavior for the long-term isn’t easy, and youth need positive activities and supportive adults to help them stay sober and crime-free.
To begin to tackle our own “beyond treatment” plan, Bristol County Reclaiming Futures recently hosted a “sustainability summit.” Our goal was to initiate conversation about how to better meet the needs of at-risk and justice-involved youth with substance abuse issues, and I’m happy to report that the project generated a lot of positive energy and even made the news! We generated a number of strategies to move forward, and a task force comprised of summit attendees and other interested parties soon begin working on implementing them. (Special thanks to Dan Merrigan of Boston University, our Reclaiming Futures coach, for facilitating the work group project.)
Some highlights:

Transferring Juveniles to Adult Court: New Research on What Works

juvenile-court_bricked-up-gate-to-juvenile-court-in-England[The authors provided a summary of the landmark Pathways to Desistance study on serious juvenile offenders here last April. - Ed.]

The option to transfer an adolescent offender to adult court has been a feature of the juvenile court since its inception. There has always been a recognition that certain, usually older, adolescents may commit very serious offenses for which the juvenile system cannot provide a substantial enough penalty to satisfy the public’s demand for punishment (Zimring, 2000). There may also be adolescent offenders who, despite the best efforts of the juvenile system, continue to offend, and for whom more of the same services seem to serve little purpose (Bishop and Frazier, 2000). In policy reforms during the 1990s and 2000s, nearly every state in the nation toughened laws governing criminal prosecution and sentencing of juveniles (Griffin, 2003).  Expansions of the transfer statutes have made it easier for a broader group of adolescents to be processed by the adult court.

Most research done to date regarding juvenile transfer has focused primarily on the negative effects of current policies, with little consistent and rigorous work on the variation among the adolescents transferred to adult court and their later adjustment in the community. Using a sample of 193 transferred youth from Arizona enrolled in the Pathways to Desistance study, we consider how certain individual characteristics are related to four post-release outcomes (antisocial activity, re-arrest, re-institutionalization, and gainful activity). We find considerable variability in outcomes, with adjustment significantly and consistently related to certain legal and risk-need factors (Schubert et al. in press). 

Roundup: Your Feedback Wanted on Federal Juvenile Justice Policy

juvenile-justice-reform_old-TVJuvenile Justice Reform and Related News

  • The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention wants your input by August 9, 2010 on federal policies and practices in these areas:
    • education and at-risk youth
    • juvenile reentry and transitions into adulthood
    • racial/ethnic disparities in juvenile justice and related systems
    • tribal youth and juvenile justice.

The Council has published a detailed request and guidelines in the Federal Register.

Here's the tricky part: to submit your comments, type "Juvenile Council" into the search box here labelled "Enter Keyword or ID." You'll likely get more than one search result, but look for the one that says, "Request for Public Comments - Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention." Don't click on it if you're ready to comment; instead, look over to the right, where you'll see a "Submit Comment" link. Click on that, and you'll be able to type in your comments. You can also scan other comments already submitted to the site. (If you can't submit your comments electronically, there are instructions in the guidelines for how to mail them in.)

Juvenile Justice Reform: Finding Opportunities When Budgets are Slashed

juvenile-justice-reform_NJJN-real-costs-benefits-report-coverIt's easy to focus on juvenile justice reform during good times; the real test comes with budget cuts.

But even wrenching cuts to staff and services can provide a chance to achieve lasting improvements to juvenile justice policies and programs.

Don't believe me? The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) has just provided us all with a road map that's concrete, helpful, and surprisingly inspiring. Titled, "The Real Costs and Benefits of Change: Finding Opportunities for Reform During Difficult Fiscal Times," it's a model of cool-headed resourcefulness.

Juvenile Justice: Why Investing in Trauma-Informed Care for Children Makes Sense

juvenile-justice-reform_old-TVJuvenile Justice Reform and Related News

OJJDP Fact Sheets on Juveniles in Court
juvenile-justice-system_Batman-tells-Robin-to-download-the-fact-sheetsYou probably saw that the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) recently put out "Juvenile Court Statistics 2006-2007," compiled by the National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ). Since not everyone will have the time to thumb through a 158-page report, so NCJJ also compiled four bite-sized fact sheets derived from the full report for your convenience:

Check out John Kelly's post on this over at Youth Today, where he points out the stats that jumped out at him.

Talking About Teens on Drugs -- and More: Weekly Roundup

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_old-TVTeens on Drugs - How We Talk About it Matters

  • Hat tip to Outreach for this piece on heroin use by teens in the suburbs from Robbie Woliver, the journalist who broke the story a year ago: "These kids just don't think it's a big deal one way or another -- there is no stigma any longer, nor is it a badge of honor. It doesn't make them 'cool.' It's just what everybody does. No big deal."
  • This is scary stuff, no doubt, but the coverage is troubling. Woliver wants everyone to wake up because suburban teens are using heroin -- teens who are not just "the lowest-life dregs of society in skid rows and downtrodden ghettos in the worst parts of urban areas," but who "have the same family values." Which makes me wonder what Woliver would think of the teens in the justice system, where substance abuse and addiction has been a common problem for years. Maybe what's needed isn't just alarm about middle-class white kids dying from heroin, tragic though that is. Maybe we need to start caring about all our kids. 

  • Want to know what works when it comes to talking to the public about teens with drug and alcohol issues who are in trouble with the law? Check out the recommendations in Solutions Storytelling: Messaging to Mobilize Support for Children's Issues. (Hat tip to sparkaction.)

Juvenile Justice Reform Webinar: Disproportionate Minority Contact, with James Bell

juvenile-justice-reform_James-Bell-photoJames Bell, Founder and Executive Director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI) -- see photo at left -- has been working in over 40 jurisdictions throughout the country to reduce the disproportionality of youth of color in the juvenile justice system.

On Thursday, July 8th at 1 pm PST / 4 pm EST, Mr. Bell will present a webinar for Reclaiming Futures on the history of this work and the approach the Burns Institute takes when working with communities to address issues related to reducing Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC). Advanced registration is required. [UPDATE: July 8th has come and gone, but you can still listen to the recording of the webinar with James Bell, or download his presentation slides.]

10 Things Every Juvenile Court Should Know About Trauma and Delinquency

juvenile-court_10-things-coverIt's not a secret that many youth in juvenile court struggle with symptoms related to trauma, but it can be hard to remember in court, when faced with a defiant youth who's been repeatedly delinquent. 

So it's great to see a new publication from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, 10 Things Every Juvenile Court Judge Should Know about Trauma and Delinquency. (Even though it seems to be aimed only at judges, it's useful for all staff who work with or in juvenile court.)